Tom Sandells looks at the talking points from Preston North End's draw with Stoke City

Preston North End played out a 0-0 draw with Stoke City on Saturday.
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The Lilywhites didn’t open the game in the best manner and the Potters had the better of the going in the first 45 minutes.

They picked their game up in the second half however and the home side were even reduced to 10 as Harry Souttar fouled Alan Browne as he attempted to enter the area one on one.

TOM SANDELLS looks at four talking points from the game.

Alan Browne and Sepp van den Berg in the thick of the actionAlan Browne and Sepp van den Berg in the thick of the action
Alan Browne and Sepp van den Berg in the thick of the action

1. One step closer.

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Although relegation has been more a threat on the horizon, Saturday’s point takes North End one step closer to safety.

It seems increasingly unlikely as the weeks go by that North End will spend next season in League One, but it’s not yet mathematically impossible and you never know.

A point against Stoke, who are a mid table side with nothing to play for, is hardly going to be a game that gets its own DVD or is even remembered beyond this month, but it’s an important point given the current scenario.

They are now 10 points clear of Rotherham though the Millers have three games in hand.

2. Strong foundations.

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A 5-0 beating at the hands of Brentford aside, PNE have looked more solid defensively under Frankie McCavoy.

They were forced to switch things up on Saturday as on-loan defender Liam Lindsay was unable to play against his current employers.

Greg Cunningham came in at wing back with Sepp van den Berg stepping inside to centre back – Tom Barkhuizen at right wing back.

Despite a shift in personnel, PNE for the most part looked good at the back.

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Stoke had the better of the first half but clear cut chances were hard to come by and at the end of the day, whatever level of stability the backline provided is what got PNE a point.

3. Some things don’t change.

Despite some good results and performances of late, PNE still look a side that just don’t have many goals in them.

Ched Evans and Emil Riis were the striking pair to start against Stoke and though the former had a goal disallowed and another good chance, away from that there was little going on.

They were both taken off for Sean Maguire and Brad Potts as PNE hoped to find more creativity, spark – or a goal by any means.

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If the defensive third of the pitching is becoming more shored up, it may be time to throw a little more forward in the ways of freedom and even numbers to try and find the answer in the final third.

4. Quick turnaround.

It gives North End a chance to build a little momentum having not lost and Derby are also a side near the bottom end of the table - potentially an opportunity for McAvoy’s men.

Hopefully the shackles come off and we see PNE truly attack their opposition and put them to the sword.

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